Contractor’s syndrome; how something you’re capable of doing just never gets done

Posted by Tom LarsenOct 22, 2014 Marketing, Operations, Organization, Planning, Product Development 0 Comment

Have you heard the one about how the contractor’s house is never finished? I always thought it was because the contractor didn’t really want to do the work in his spare time that he does for a living. This week I found an alternate point of view that made sense for far more than just the contractor.

The contractor is totally CAPABLE of doing the work to finish his house himself (DIY). Why would he hire someone to do the work? He wouldn’t. Each of the unfinished projects will take 3 hours, but, week after week goes by somehow the contractor never finds the 3 hours. Weeks lead to months. This is the “contractor’s syndrome”.

The time it takes to do something is often confused with how quickly it will be completed on a calendar. There are two measurements of time – the time to perform the work, and the time on the calendar by which the work will be complete. Both are necessary to be aware of and use in considering whether to DIY or to hire someone to do it.

We all have examples in our work of the small project that is not getting finished. Maybe it is not fun. Maybe you are not good at it (but you know how). Maybe you need one tool or one piece of information. Whatever the case is, you are not getting to it. You know it will only really take 3 hours (or less), yet, there it sits after a month. Why? Because it never rose high enough on your priority list to become important to complete, which absolutely does NOT mean it is not important to the organization. Remember, the contractor (and his family) are living in the unfinished house.

Soon enough, these projects multiply (at the contractor’s house) and one becomes 3 becomes 5 becomes 10. Now there is real time required, and yet, in your business, you are still fully capable of doing them yourself.

When you let your capabilities define your priorities and your work load, you are losing ground every day. Your company needs you to define your company priorities and develop your capabilities. Then your company needs you to outsource or hire the rest.

For the contractor, the priority is the client’s house, not his own house. He should hire the people to finish his house. For your company, the priority is ____________________ and you need to find other people to take care of the rest. The longer you wait, the more that piles up, and the more calendar you lose (which can’t be reclaimed). Start setting priorities and stop giving up calendar. Make your company capable of more than just what you can do yourself.

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